Back home in Edmonds. Time for the exciting conclusion: First off, a couple of thoughts in general about Ireland:
— The people are remarkably friendly. More than we have experienced elsewhere. We had car issues twice, and people went out of their way to help us get going again when there was no advantage in it for them. Part of this may be that we speak a form of the same language, but I think there is more to it than that. — Renting a car is really expensive in Ireland. We’d been told that but didn’t appreciate it. The initial price we paid to reserve the car was less than half what we ended up paying. We paid extra for the maximum insurance, but it didn’t apply to either of the issues we had. (That’s probably not unique to Ireland.) I don’t have a solution to this if you want to travel to some of the smaller towns and rural areas, but it is worth preparing for.
— It is no secret that it is challenging to drive on the left and shift of the left, on narrow roads that are only 1-car wide. No solution for this – just a fact of life. (See above.) — I couldn’t find any pigs. We saw hundreds of fields full of sheep, and many herds of cows, but no pigs. Yet virtually every menu had bacon (Irish bacon is kind of like Canadian bacon), or pork sausages. And the Irish are fastidious about local
sourcing. So where were the pigs? — Ireland is a very worthwhile destination: Dublin for history, culture and architecture; Belfast and Derry for a look at their recent history; the west and
the Antrim Coast for landscape and physical beauty. One tip that isn’t in the tourist books we saw: the city museum in the town of Tralee is an amazingly thorough and interesting view of Irish history, along with an entire floor that is a recreation of a medieval village. It is clearly worth a visit if you are in the area (it is near the Dingle peninsula.) And, finally, a couple additional thoughts about travel and the blog: When Pat and I decided to go to Italy last fall, we had a couple of ideas about what we
might accomplish with a travel blog: We wanted to write about the places we visited, of course, but I also had in the back of my mind that we also could write about the changes and attitudes that accompany a different way of living our lives, without the need to get up and to work every day. After more than 40 years (each) of a daily work routine, how would we approach our lives without the need to do that? What would replace it when we weren’t traveling? How would we get along with each other when we were spending that much more time together – or at least at the same address? Many people were very kind about the blog and said how much they had
enjoyed it. A few of them may have been telling the truth – you never know. But the blog really only accomplished the first, and easiest, part. We really enjoyed the trip, and we had a good time writing about and photographing the places we visited, and commenting on some of the Italian peculiarities. I am sure many people have taken to heart Pat’s advice about Prosecco and occasional pedicures. We didn’t come to any great revelations about how to spend the rest of our lives – other than that travel would be a big part of it. This was particularly evident when the posts ended kind of abruptly – without anything to really bring the trip to a close. So, this year, as we were planning a trip to England and Ireland, and decided to revive the blog, I wanted to come up with a more cogent conclusion, even if I didn’t have any new revelations on the big questions of what we’ll do next in our lives. Travel clearly will continue to be a focus. My priorities now include (in no particular order) the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania;) Central Europe, maybe including a trip down the Danube; the Balkans including the Adriatic Coast; Turkey. I know Pat wants to see Turkey and Morocco, and she recently said she’d like to see some South American jungles and Costa Rica, but when I asked where she wants to go next, she said she’s not ready yet to plan another big trip. We have quickly settled back into our routine here. I have a couple of public affairs clients and would like a few more – to be able to work about half time. Maybe the great secret of what to do next will hit me. If so, I will send another post.